Jul 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Michael Avenatti sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in Nike extortion case

Michael Avenatti

Michael Avenatti in 2019. Photo: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who gained notoriety for his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her suit against Donald Trump, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Thursday for trying to extort Nike out of more than $20 million.

Why it matters: Avenatti was once considered a rising Democratic star and a potential 2020 candidate before facing extortion, fraud and tax charges.

  • Avenatti became a household name in 2018 and was a fixture on cable TV as Daniels' lawyer.

State of play: Avenatti was found guilty in February 2020 of attempted extortion, honest-services fraud and the related use of interstate communications after he attempted to "extract more than $20 million in payments" from Nike by threatening to bring bad publicity to the company unless it complied with his demands.

  • Thursday's sentencing addresses only a slice of Avenatti's legal troubles.
  • He also faces a "litany of tax and bank charges" in California, where a trial is slated to begin next week. A trial in New York is also set to begin next year for "federal charges that he embezzled money from Ms. Daniels," the Wall Street Journal reports.

What they're saying: "Michael Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats and betrayed one of his clients for the purpose of seeking to obtain millions of dollars for himself," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a press release.

  • "Not only did Avenatti attempt to weaponize his law license and celebrity to seek to extort payments for himself, he also defrauded his own client. Avenatti will now serve substantial time in prison for his criminal conduct," she added.
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